IN A a rare show of unity, an incumbent President and all living past Presidents of the Philippines on Wednesday joined hands to show support for the country’s first National Security Council (NSC) meeting under the Duterte administration in Malacañang.
“This is the Philippine Team,” former President and special envoy to China Fidel V. Ramos said as he got together with President Rodrigo R. Duterte, former President Benigno Aquino III, former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and former President now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada in what could be considered a historic event in the history of the country — all living Presidents meeting to tackle the country’s security situation.
The unlikely get-together first happened at the President’s Hall in Malacañan, where a photograph with all five of them was taken. Afterwards, President Duterte convened the NSC, as chair of the collegial body, at the State Dining Hall.
They were joined by the leaders of both Houses of Congress, including the peace and security committee chairs, Cabinet Secretaries engaged in peace and security matters such as National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, officers of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Vice-President Leni Robredo.
Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan, whom President Duterte is eyeing to back up Ramos as envoy to China, was also present.
The NSC is the principal advisory body on the proper coordination and integration of plans and policies affecting national security. It includes selected officials of the Cabinet and Congress as members, as well as other government executives and private citizens who may be invited by the President.